​Rem Koolhaas returns to Lille to build new courthouse

The Dutch architectural firm OMA, led by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, has won the competition to build a new courthouse in Lille, France.

(c) OMA

OMA’s design of the building that will be occupied by the high court and district court of Lille was selected from 139 applications by the Ministry of Justice. Its cost was estimated at around 100 million euros.

The location for the building is situated on the outskirts of the city and near the 17th century Fortifications of Vauban (a UNESCO World Heritage site). “Triggered by this location, OMA has designed a colorful multifaceted building that is able to address a wide range of different elements from the city’s past and present,” the firm said in a statement.

One of the first images published by the Dutch firm shows the building from the outside. The trapezoid construction lined with floor-to-ceiling windows is seen perched on a green lawn surrounded by trees. Another image shows a very light central hall, with the structure being reminiscent of the hull of a boat.

“From the base of the building, which houses the public and the major courtrooms, a central triangular tower rises where all the minor courtrooms are concentrated. This tower is surrounded by a ring of offices floating above the base,” the firm said in its description.

(с) OMA

Lille’s Mayor Martine Aubry has welcomed the design, calling it “very compact and very elegant.” Speaking to AFP, she said the courthouse building will only occupy 6,000 square meters (despite 20,000 square meters being allocated for the project) and the building will be like “a pavilion in a park."

The firm says the interiors were conceived to “make all the procedures of justice accessible, even inviting, free of intimidation that has traditionally been the main characteristic of the architecture of justice.”

The design team is being led by Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon. The project has been developed in collaboration with Saison Menu, WSP, BMF, and Quadrim, and is expected to be completed by 2023.

The courthouse is the third project designed by the Dutch architectural firm in Lille. In 1989, Koolhaas created the plan of Euralille, an urban quarter in the center of Lille, which is today the third-largest business district in France. In 1994, the firm executed the project for Congrexpo, a conference and exhibition center.

Text: Ekaterina Motyakina